Everest Base Camp, Step 1 : Research


My interest in hiking to Everest Base Camp started in November. I happened to visit a theme night on an outdoor store in Stockholm where a travelling agency were talking about their trips to Nepal. Before this evening, I hardly had clue that it even was a hiking trail up to Everest Base Camp, and even less how it was to hike it. The represent of the agency’s intention was of course to make people register for their trips there, but after walking through the United States on my own, I couldn’t help thinking if I could do this by myself too. I stayed and talked with them afterwards, and he told me that there are no advanced moments like climbing or glaciers along the trail up to Base camp, which immediately made my thoughts start spinning.

I started to check this out, I bought books and maps, went to more lectures with other travelling agencies and googled for information. It turned out to be quite hard to find information on how to make this hike on your own. I could certainly find out more about it, but almost all information was linked to an organised trip where a lot of the costs, like food and accommodation are included in the price. It was hard to find how you booked these things on your own, without the middle hand or what things actually cost. And that was where the idea of this project was born. I want to collect all that info I felt that I missed as a solo hiker and pass it on to others who are interested in the same thing.

Therefore, before my departure in September, I will review all the steps I have taken in my preparations for Everest Base Camp, such as budget, schedule and training, etc. But I start with what I did first: Research.

* At the time of writing this, I have not managed to get all the prices or found out exactly how all the things works. That will be something for me to check out while I’m there and summarize when I’m home again.

Location

There are two Everest Base Camp, one in Nepal and one in Tibet (China), of which the one in Nepal is the one I’m going to. If you plan to hike there, the most common thing to do is to fly to Kathmandu, then take a smaller domestic flight to the small mountain village of Lukla and then hike from there. If you want to extend your hike, you can also walk to Lukla from the village of Jiri, which you reach by bus or car from Kathmandu. Since my project is about exploring the budget options, I will start my Jiri trip to see if I’ll save some money hiking into Luka instead of flying. One thing is sure, I will get a lot more for my money and I will also have a bigger chance of reaching my goal as I will have even more time to get used to the elevation.

NEPAL
Capital: Kathmandu
Country Number: +977
Time zone: UTC +5: 45
Currency: Nepalese rupee, NPR. 1 NPR = 0.0096 USD / 1 USD = 104.19 NPR (May 2017). In some places, USD is also used.
Population: 28.51 million (2015)
Area: 147 181 km2
City: Republic
Official language: Nepali

Price, flight Sweden-Kathmandu: Between about 5,000 – 13,000 SEK, round trip. The price varies on total flight time, number of stops and how far in advance you book. My tickets cost 6800 SEK.

How to book: Use a search engine to compare flight prices.

Price, Flight Lukla-Kathmandu: About $150-170 one way.

How to book: *I’ve been helped by a travel agent to book this trip, but I will also investigate on location how it works.

Distance and elevation

When talking about hiking in mountains, it’s more common to talk about the distance you travel in altitude meters and how many hours you hike, rather than the actual length you walk. A hike from Lukla to Everest Base Camp means an increase of 2504 meters (8215 ft) in altitude and takes about 12 days (eight days up, including two ”acclimatization days” – short days when you get used to the height and often sleep two nights in the same place + four days back to Lukla). You walk somewhere between five to seven hours a day and it is important to take it slow and let it take time since you have to get used to the elevation. The total distance is approximately about 106 km (66 miles) back and forth from Lukla to Everest Base Camp.

If you, like me, choose to walk from Jiri, you can count on another five to six days of walking and 955 meters (3133 ft) elevation gain before coming to Lukla. This distance is approximately 76 km (47 miles) and in total it becomes 182 km (113 miles) from Jiri – Everest Base camp – Lukla, 17-18 days and an increase of 3459 meters (11 348 ft) in altitude.

During my hike, I will also climb the Kala Patthar and Lobuche Peak mountains, which means a total increase of 4 214 meters (13 825 ft) and my entire hike is estimated to take 22 days including two extra days for reservation for bad weather.

Length:

Jiri – Lukla: 76 km (47 miles)

Lukla – Everest Base Camp – Lukla: 106 km (66 miles)

Jiri – Everest Base Camp – Lukla (my hiking without the peaks): 182 km (113 miles)

Height:

Kathmandu: 1300 m (4265 ft)

Jiri: 1905 m (6250 ft)

Lukla: 2860 m (9383 ft)

Everest Base Camp: 5364 m (17598 ft)

Kala Patthar: 5645 m (18 520 ft)

Lobuche Peak, east: 6119 m (20 075 ft)

Mount Everest summit: 8848 m (29 028 ft)

 

Map from National Geographic: Lukla – Everest Base Camp

When

Nepal has four seasons, Spring: March-May, Summer/Monsun: June-September, Autumn: October-November and Winter: December-February. The most common months to hike to Base Camp are April and October, but it’s possible to hike throughout the whole spring and autumn season and some even go in January. If you want to get a glimpse of the expeditions that aims for the summit of Everest, you’ll have to go in April (May) though. This is the only month(s)  possible to make a summit attempt and also when there is an actual camp at Base Camp. Other times of the year it is completely empty.

Stay

In Kathmandu you can stay at a hostel or hotel, nothing is particularly expensive. Most hikers stay in the Thamel area, where there are plenty of shops selling or renting hiking equipment at low prices.

The trail itself goes between small mountain villages. The biggest, Namche Bazaar, is located at 3440 meter (11 286 ft) of altitude and has an population of about 1650 people, but there are plenty of smaller villages all the way up to Base Camp (the last one, Gorak Shep is about 4 km (2,5 miles) / 2-3 hours from Base Camp). In these villages there are several tea houses / lodges in which it’s most common to spend the night. You rent a bed and there might be some blankets, but you have to bring your own sleeping bag. It is also possible to camp, but as I’ve understand it you have to camp at marked places in the villages and they’re not free.

Price hostel / hotel Kathmandu: from $4,5/5  per night and person (according to booking.com). The hotels I booked was $63 in total for 5 nights.

How to book: Use a search engine such as booking.com, momondo.com, hotels.com etc. to compare prices. You can probably book directly in Kathmandu as well. I’m gonna find this out while in Nepal.

Price teahouse / Lodge: *Gonna find out in Nepal.

Price camping: *Gonna find out in Nepal.

How to book: *Gonna find out in Nepal.

According to the information I received, you can count on a total cost of $ 15-50 / day for accommodation, food and water. Some think it costs more, others less. A rather big difference if you ask me, so that is also something I will look into while in Nepal.

Eat

You can of course carry your own food, but as the hike will take over 10 days back and forth, it will be very heavy. You can by food at the tea houses / lodges you pass at a rather cheap price. It’s very common that you will get a special price for both food and accomodation, so make sure you eat and the same place you’ll be spending the night. There are also small shops where you can buy snacks but these get more expensive the higher up you get.

I might bring me a gas stove to boil water and some packets of noodles to save on lunch money. I will also bring some tea bags and snacks that I’ll buy Kathmandu.

Price breakfast / lunch / dinner:  *Gonna find out in Nepal.

Price example snacks: *Gonna find out in Nepal.

According to the information I received, you can count on a total cost of $ 15-50 / day for accommodation, food and water. Some think it costs more, others less. A rather big difference if you ask me, so that is also something I will look into while in Nepal.

Water

In order to safely drink the water in the mountains it has to be boiled and the most common thing is to buy a few liters of boiled water where you eat or sleep by handing over your water bottles for refilling. You can also buy bottled water, but this is not recommended, partly because of the price, but also because of the risk of littering. I might as I said, bring my own gas stove and then I can even boil the water myself. I will probably also bring some form of water purification product, for safety reasons. There are also other drinks to buy along the way. Note that it is recommended to avoid alcohol during a hike like this since it may complicate the acclimatization (you getting used to the eleveation).

Price water refill: According to one source $ 0.5-3 per liter, but this is also something I’m gonna find out in Nepal.

Price water bottle: *Gonna find out in Nepal.

How

When booking a trip through an travel agency, mostly carriers, ”Sherpas”, and guides are included which means that you don’t need to carry your pack yourself (however, you have to carry a day pack). You can also book private sherpas or guides on site. But since I’ve been walking through the entire United States, including passes over 4000 meters (13 000 ft) and also been carrying my own food for up to ten days at the same time without any major problems, I found it quite hard to see why I shouldn’t be able to carry my own stuff here as well. Therefor, I will not hire a sherpa , nor will I have a guide. The trail up to Base Camp is well visited, not to say crowded sometimes, and those who have been here testify that it’s almost impossible to get lost. And as the trail doesn’t pass any risky sections, a guide is not mandatory.

Price organised trips: About $2500-4000 + tip. These trips usually include food and accommodation, but rarely the flight to/from Kathmandu.

Price, sherpas + tip: *Gonna find out in Nepal.

Price, guide + tip: *Gonna find out in Nepal.

How to book a sherpa/guide: *Gonna find out in Nepal.

Vaccinations

As the recommendations for vaccinations vary, it is important that you check this out in good time before your trip. Recommended is three months before departure, as certain vaccinations must be taken far in advance and sometimes in multiple doses. You do not need a health certificate to enter Nepal (as long as you don’t come from/travel through Africa or South America. Then you need a certificate of being vaccinated against yellow fever), but it’s always good to make sure you have a vaccination card so you can keep track of your vaccinations for future trips and not have to get them and pay for it twice. If you do not already have one, ask for one when you get your vaccin.

How to do it: Check with your local vaccination reception how to do it and when. Some places have drop-in, others you have to schedule an appointment. I guess it varies from place to place and country to country. Before you go there, check out what kind the vaccinations you have gotten previously.

Price, vaccination: Varies depending on what you have gotten before and what is recommended at the moment. Also where you live. In Sweden where most health care is subsidised the cost for my vaccination will be about $ 160.

Insurance

When hiking in these mountains it’s very important that you have a good insurance. There’s some medical care in the mountains, but if you suffer from something serious or get seriously hurt, there are no roads to be picked up at, the only way out to larger hospitals is to be carried or be flown out by helicopter, which can be very expensive unless you are properly insured. The insurance system in Sweden is very good, my home insurance also includes a travel insurance for a certain number of days. If you are insured, be sure to check with your insurance company what’s included and if it covers high-altitude hiking (some require a supplementary insurance over a certain level). Also, ask specifically about what happens if you need to be picked up by a helicopter.

Visa and permits

To enter Nepal, a visa is required and you get this at the airport in Kathmandu, then you will need a hiking permit (TIMS) and a entry ticket for Sagarmatha National Park.

Visa: About 25 USD for 30 days. Get it at Kathmandu Airport. Make sure your passport is valid 6 months after your departure.

TIMS: 10 USD (via an agency) or 20 USD (if you hike on your own). If you are hiking on your own, this is purchased in Kathmandu at Bhrikuti Mandap Tourist Center near Ratna Park Bus depot. Bring a copy of your passport and two passport photos. Please note that the office can be closed on Saturdays and public holidays, but local travel agents can arrange it for an additional fee on other days.

Entrance Sagarmatha National Park: Approx. $30. Can be purchased along the trail at the entrance, or also  at Bhrikuti Mandap tourist center in Kathmandu.

Risks

The greatest risk of a hike up to Everest Base Camp is the elevation. You gain 2504 meters (8215 ft) of altitude from Lukla to Base Camp and it’s important to not stress and to know what you are doing. Especially if you’re hiking on your own. I will in future post have a closer look at this, what it may mean, how you should act, how to prevent that it will become a problem and how to prevent it even before departure. If you should do this trip on your own, it’s very important that you are aware of this and that you don’t push/overestimate yourself.

It can also get cold so warm clothes that protect against the wind, cold and moisture are a must. As is a warm sleeping bag. Assume that the temperature may drop below freezing at night, especially at higher altitudes.

Accept the elevation and cold, there’s just the same general risks as hiking in the woods at home, such as blisters, sore feet or tripping. Things that just require common sense and attention. A pair of comfortable (not new) shoes, clothes and a first-aid kit are always recommended. As mentioned above, the trail up to Base Camp is well visited and you won’t pass any glaciers, which makes it relatively safe. It is also so well marked that it’s hard to get lost. You should of course always use common sense and never take a side trail if you are not sure what you’re doing.

That’s all for now! In future blog posts, I will write about budget, schedule, elevation/acclimatization, training, packing list and eventually the trip itself!

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Me who runs the blog

... is Linda Åkerberg. I'm a 32 years old photographer based in Stockholm, Sweden. Read more about me here

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Someone once asked me if I didn't loose track of the days hiking the PCT. My answer was 'No, it was actually the opposite, I could easily recall the days, even months back. We just didn't call them by the name we use in "normal life". In the wild we simply referred to them after what made them special.' This is for example a pic from "Fog Day" (or as all the others would call it, May 6) last year. 
PCT, mile ~426
How do you prepare for a hike on a trail you never been on before? Read about my second step in my preparation for Everest Base Camp trek: Setting a time schedule, at wilderness-stories.com (link in bio)
Pic from PCT mile ~1973, in one of the weirdest landscapes I've ever seen: the lava fields in Oregon.
Passing the 2600-mile marker on the PCT was a big thing for me. Being the last 100-marker with only 50 mile to go it was clear that I was gonna complete the entire trail. Now I've seen that I've also passed 2600 followers here on Instagram! I'm so happy for all of you and that you want to follow me on my adventures! Hearing from you, meeting you and hear your own stories is what keeps me going - so from the bottom I'm my heart, THANK YOU! ❤️
One year ago today, on June 5th 2016, I summited my very first mountain, Mount Whitney on a side trail of the PCT. With its 14505 ft / 4421 meter it counts as the highest mountain in the "lower 48" (the U.S. except the 2 states of Alaska and Hawaii). It was a bit tricky in the snow, but we all made it! I know there's a lot more snow in the Sierras this year so I wish all the thruhikers of 2017 all the best and also want to send them a reminder to stay safe. If Whitney feels to risky when you pass it, you can always do it later. The mountains won't go anywhere. ❤️
If you have a dream or something you really want to do, it can be a little bit scary to make it happen. We make up ideas about why now isn't the right time, why it's better to do it later. But the truth is that there's no better time than right now. Don't push forward your dreams. Make them happen. ☀️
Me after my first full day of kayaking last week. It was a bit scary and on this pic I'm super tired but so happy at the same time because I finally did it! And it was so much fun!
If there's something you feel like trying, just do it. Don't make up excuses for why now isn't the best time. Yesterday I rented a kayak and crossed through the islands in the Stockholm archipelago for the very first time. I moved here 13 years ago and I can't believe it's took me so long to do this! 
Good side with the story though: It's never to late.
2:30 in the morning and the sun is slowly rising over the Baltic Sea. I just love those bright summer nights. ❤️
Spent the whole day yesterday in the beautiful Nacka nature reserve just outside Stockholm. It's amazing how fast you can get out in nature, even in such a big city as the capital of Sweden! From the stockholm central station it's less then a 30 minutes drive and with the metro it will go even faster!
Tried a new form of workout yesterday: I put my backpack on and cycled to the store for some grocery shopping. 15K and 15kg on my back surely made me feel both good and exhausted afterwards!

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